WARSAW, (BM) – The Russians have created a large landing force in the Black Sea, which is officially to show Russia’s strength in repelling enemy strikes and readiness to attack any place in the Black Sea with the use of a sea landing. Due to the lack of an adequate number of units in the Black Sea Fleet, Moscow drew additional ships from the Northern Fleet, the Baltic Fleet, and the Caspian Flotilla, Defence24 reports.
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The Russian defense ministry announced on April 17 that a large group of ships of the Caspian Flotilla passed under the Kerch Bridge that connects Crimea with Russia. A group of fifteen vessels left the Sea of Azov and entered the Black Sea. According to the official announcement, the operation is carried out by the approved military training plan for 2021 as part of a control check during the winter training period for the Southern Military District of the Polish Military Organization. The exercise aims to “increase the combat level and operational training of troops and POW forces, improve the forms and methods of carrying out the exercises, taking into account the changing situation within the limits of responsibility.”
From the Caspian Flotilla, three artillery ships, eight landing boats, and four auxiliary units that previously made the transition from the Caspian Sea to the Sea of Azov using the Volga-Don channel assigned to the task. The ships sailed more than 100 km in this way, crossing thirteen locks and, in the meantime passing Volgograd, Kalach on the Don, Wołgodońsk, and Siemikarakorsk.
Ultimately, units of the Caspian Fleet arrived at the port of Tiemryuk on the Sea of Azov (where the Russians replenished fuel and food supplies). On April 16, it came under the operational control of the Black Sea Fleet. According to the plan of the scrutineering, during the winter training period, the entire ship’s team, after passing under the Kerch Strait bridge, went to the designated exercise area.
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This team joined by four large projects 775 / 775M landing ships with a displacement of 4,400 tons: “Kaliningrad” and “Korolev” from the Baltic Fleet and “Aleksandr Otrakowskij” and “Kondopoga” from the Northern Fleet, which on April 17, 2021, passed through the Bosphorus from the Mediterranean Sea and headed towards Sevastopol.
So far, it is not known whether there are any marines on board the landing units. The Minoborona communiqué only indicated that, as ordered by the commander of the Southern Military District, Army General Alexander Dvornikov, “units of the marines and coastal forces of the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla were engaged in checking the readiness to repel sea and air landings.”
It does not change the fact that there appeared a landing ship unit of a size known mainly from the times of the Soviet Union in the Black Sea. Therefore, there is a suspicion that this entire operation is not just a combat readiness test but another demonstration of the strength of the Russian Navy and its readiness to respond in every country on the Black Sea.
However, this does not change the fact that in order to organize such a show, due to the current state of the Navy, it was necessary to bring in landing ships from the Baltic Fleet and the Northern Fleet. The case is even stranger as, according to official announcements, the Black Sea Fleet consists of the 197th Landing Craft Brigade, consisting of three large Project 1171 Tapir landing ships and four large Project 775 landing ships.
Combined with what joined them from other fleets, all these vessels could theoretically land over 220 armored personnel carriers (or 140 medium tanks) and over 4,000 marines.
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